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Stairway to Heaven?

Posted by Sid Langley on Saturday, September 15, 2007

I find myself lifting the sky with both hands while my lower limbs vibrate at 1,320 times a minute. I know, I know, sounds like the experience of someone trying the latest club drug, but it’s really very simple. It’s just a catchier way of grabbing your attention than saying I was in the gym the other morning when the following thoughts came to me.
 I always start off an exercise session by standing on a power plate. It’s like a big weighing machine with the scales bit moving rapidly. The idea is that it exercises deep muscle fibre and shakes up lymph glands and the like. You get a 40-minute workout by standing there for five minutes, allegedly. But rather than be buffeted about by what I can’t help but think of as a scaled-up version of something from an adult store, I always work in a few moves from my Tai Chi for Dummies course – hence lifting the sky with both hands, an inscrutable Oriental way of saying slowly raise your arms above your head.
 It’s at this point that a little bit of spookiness enters my life. Well, the Sugababes bumping into the Beatles is strange, even in my head. While swigging down my giant Starbucks mug of Yorkshire Gold Blend tea before coming to the gym I fast forwarded through the last bit of A Hard Day’s Night, taped some time ago from television and watched in snatches.
 I’ve listened to the songs but skipped most of the studiedly offbeat humour which I now find cringemaking. But I recall thinking in 1964 that it was terrific cutting edge stuff and so subversive. Now I see it as the musicbiz grabbing a marketing opportunity for the first time and director Richard Lester inventing the basic format of the pop video.
 Which is where the Sugababes come in.
 On one of the gym’s giant plasma screens the latest incarnation of the pop trio (the woman of colour is the only original, I believe) gyrate in yellow outfits on London’s South Bank to promote new single About You Now. I can’t, luckily, hear it. No headphones, you see.
 But this is where A Hard Day’s Night leads, I think. The back story of the video involves a guy and a girl meeting up on the Embankment over the Millennium Bridge by exchanging phone messages. He gets there by pulling off certain free running stunts – leaping over fences, walking over a van etc.
 This also strikes me as spooky because we saw the real thing on the South Bank not long ago. As we left on the last day of the brilliant Anthony Gormley show at the Hayward Gallery half a dozen young men were leaping all over the place, running up walls and generally defying the laws of gravity.
 The Sugababes video ends with an RIP dedication of Tim Royes, a video director killed in a Manhattan car accident. And I can’t help but think that Lennon and Harrison, so vibrant in grainy black and white on my television screen this morning, are gone as well.
 And actually, I’m quite happy about that. I loved the music of A Hard Day’s Night, but it meant most to me in bringing back my youth, when I had the same energy as The Beatles, the same certain knowledge that it was going to be different for our generation.
 Because John and George are gone there can never be a get-together of the sort Led Zeppelin are now planning. The audience at this Zepp event will all be there to try to recapture lost youth, yesterday’s emotions. It’s mawkish, sentimental and sad. Rockers really should die before they get old.

3 comments on “Stairway to Heaven?”

Jane C Says:
Saturday, September 15, 2007 @6:49:29 PM

I love the way you write Sid, like warm honey, calm and relaxed. You remind me of a wonderful american author whose name is always just beyond my grasp.

Yeah - in the music business dying young is never a bad career move

PruchaLegend Says:
Sunday, September 16, 2007 @1:34:50 AM

Hi Sid, You kept me riveted to your blog all the way through. I think there are a lot of careers in which the principals should die before they get old. Of course, that wouldn't apply to me...or you!

Sid Langley Says:
Sunday, September 16, 2007 @4:45:48 AM

Thing is, folk musicians (banjo people particularly), jazzers and blues players benefit from age and experience - is the same true for rock? It's youth music, its whole thrust is kids v the world ... nothing wrong with that, but lets leave that to the teenagers, they have the energy and lack of experience (I won't say innocence) which makes rock a suitable vehicle for their emotions. In anyone over 40 it's a joke - or a business proposition.

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